external HD on USB 2.0 as primary audio drive

is anyone currently using an external hard disk (7200 RPM) via USB 2.0 as their primary audio drive, recording and mixing directly with it? I’ve mixed existing tracks on one before, but have yet to have the opportunity to try recording. It would greatly increase my workflow if I could use the drive in the studio, take those exact files/mixes home, make any minor changes and then take it right back to the studio without having to move any files around (studio space is currently in a spare room in my buddies place -where access is limited usually to weekends only- but I do all of the recording/mixing). I could just use space on both machines for backup instead of the external. Any thoughts/shared experiences are greatly appreciated…
- - some technical details: the machine in the studio has USB built into the mobo while the home machine has the USB on the PCI bus. aside from that, the machines are virtually identical (home machine has seperate hardware and user profiles for doing audio work).

Well. By some amazing coincidence, I was pondering the same thing. Our local K-Mart has a big sale on and I picked up a 7200RPM 80GB Western Digital USB 2.0 drive this afternoon. Playback of 8 mono tracks and 2 stereo tracks at 24/48 is fine. However, I ran HD Tach on my system drives including the USB 2.0 jobbie.

1) WD 80GB ATA100 51MB/sec (system drive)
2) WD 80GB ATA100 52MB/sec (audio drive)
3) WD 80GB USB2.0 18.5MB/sec (external, carry everywhere, do-it all drive)

The copy of HD Tach I have does not do write tests. These are read-only tests and seek times. I forget the number but the seek time of the USB drive was more than double that of the ATA drives.

Maybe I can record some stuff to it this weekend and post back. Honestly though, I only bought it for use as a portable 80GB file mover! :D


EDIT** Just another observation…according to n-Track’s CPU meter, n does not care where the song is played back from. The USB drive showed 11% CPU as did the dedicated internal ATA drive. Hmmm…somehow I thought CPU usage would be higher… ???

I’ve got the Maxtor 120GB. When I did my first test playback, I was mixing 16 mono at 24/48, full on with 4 aux busses w/ reverb and other various plugs/eq, at least one per track and it didn’t miss a beat or crank my CPU higher than about 40% at times. I was surprised myself and then immediately thought, “hey, if i could…yeah…that would be great!” It’s definitely the recording that I think may present the problem - when I track drums, it’s usually 8 at a time. If I can do that, I’m solid!


I inserted test tones and recorded 10 tracks at 24/44.1 for two minutes. Did’nt even grunt. I can’t wait to try this little devil out with ye 'ol laptop! Oh yeah. I don’t have a multi-channel portable interface…YET!